The Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club engages our club members in a positive and practical approach in order to prepare them for a higher education. We are an organization that provides a great, safe, supportive, and productive space for our club members to learn and grow as unique individuals and we engage our club members with such proactive programs geared towards their future it galvanizes our community around higher education.
The Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club is a CBO that provides college prep programs and support services to our members in the community who represent traditionally underrepresented groups. As an organization we have a unique and special opportunity to take those candidates, groups of 20-25 students, on weekend college visits once a month around the northeast and also on 4 to 5 night college tours around the country during their winter and summer breaks.
During their Junior and Senior year we work with them on S.A.T prep, college essay writing, FAFSA and scholarship workshops; but before any of that becomes relevant they are members of our organization beginning in elementary school. As a CBO we help to teach, tutor, nurture, and create great students and community leaders starting from first grade. We keep them actively involved in service projects, provide academic support, participate in leadership conferences, and expose them to small businesses, skilled tradesmen, and a multitude of different internship and career opportunities.
Academic Support & College Preparation:
Starting in elementary school we offer after-school academic programming in ESL, reading and writing, math, and verbal skills. Throughout middle school and high school our club members have the benefit of utilizing tutoring sessions from staff and volunteers, join reading and creative writing clubs, and receive homework and test preparation support. As an organization we not only help them prepare for state Regents exams and finals, but we offer clubs and academic services to help them overcome their struggles in the classroom. With individualized attention and a supportive and nurturing environment, our club members utilize our staff, volunteers, and programs to help them hone their skills, improve their grades, and become a more resourceful and well rounded student.
Advocacy and Exposure:
One of our College Prep program goals every year is to discover new schools. New schools for us to bring our club members to visit, new schools for us to invite their recruiters and alumni to our organization, and new schools for us to build relationships with in order to become a resource for those them to recruit outstanding diverse applicants; applicants that have years of preparation and support in community development, leadership and academics.
Our CBO has the capability to expose future candidates to potential universities at an early age; and throughout their middle school and high school years we cultivate an environment of success, animate the college experience for them, and testify to the values and benefits of attending a post-secondary school.
Traditionally in neighborhoods and communities with underrepresented groups there is disenchantment with post-secondary education. Our community has made incredible inroads to eliminate that type of environment and stigmatism. We have deep roots in the community and active teenage members as well as their families. As an organization we will continue to do all the leg work, outreach, and research we can to identify institutions and build relationships with them, but we hope to use resources such as College Green Light to help us with those efforts. We will host recruiters, provide a space for college fairs, and provide a wealth of qualified hard working students and their families to participate in activities with university representatives.
Leadership & Community Development:
Our club members go above and beyond in their volunteer work, fundraisers, and community outreach, sometimes matching the efforts of our full time professionals. Our Club members spend almost every weekend on service projects. Service projects such as building affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity, rebuilding destroyed homes after Hurricane Sandy, preparing and serving food at local shelters, and spending quality time with children less fortunate in hospitals and day habilitation centers; all projects that they advocate for and research.
The Teens conduct community outreach that draws close to thousands of participants to come to our community center for holiday dinners, cultural celebrations, and carnivals. The work it takes to outreach, plan the operations, and budget for these events are administrative responsibilities for professionals; responsibilities which our teens take on their own. They spend countless hours fundraising for initiatives every year and raising thousands of dollars that go to programs such as hurricane relief, cancer research, and local hospitals.
One great example is our summer ESL program. The Teens members in our organization saw and identified a need in the community. They wanted to start their own ESL program for the Spanish speaking adults in their community because most of the teens we serve come from Hispanic origins and either themselves or their friends and family struggle every day to communicate. As a group they created a proposal and reached out to different professors from local universities until one agreed to help train them. They went through an eight week (sixteen hours a week) crash course, then outreached to the community to enroll adults and now our Teens plan lessons and teach their own ESL class once a week every summer for eight weeks.
One student's success story is like many others of ours. Rosario came to our organization and community from Ecuador as a young girl and did not speak any English. She was very shy and almost mute. Her lack of communication and social skills landed her in ESL and special education classes, which we would find out later, were not for her. Our club helped her come out of her shell, make friends, and socialize with the rest of the community by giving her a safe and supportive place to come after school and be herself. Our ESL and homework help programs eventually allowed her to quickly master the English language.
As she started middle school though she still tested into special education and ESL classes, which frustrated her because she felt that was not going to force her to learn English and challenge her enough to become a better student. Counselors at the club communicated with her school and her family and advocated for her to be taken out of ESL classes where she shined. Secondly, taking advantage of our homework help and academic programs, Rosario worked tirelessly after school to improve her grades and work on her math and verbal skills in order to test out of special education. Through a lot of hard work and determination and support from her school, community, and Boys & Girls Club, she eventually graduated high school with an International Baccalaureate diploma and an Advanced New York State Regents Diploma with Distinction.
Outreach & Membership
Our outreach efforts consist of weekly school visits to all local elementary, middle, and high schools in the community. We go into the cafeteria during lunch to visit students, drop off flyers in teachers mailboxes, and invite administrators to our organization for tours.
We open our facilities to after-school clubs who need to utilize our space or equipment and collaborate with other programs and organizations in the community and at the schools.
Best Practice 2: Recreation
As an after-school program we must be inviting to our young people in the community. Teenagers are difficult to entice and engage, but we offer fun activities and specialized programs that cater to their wants and needs. We listen to what they want in an after-school space where they would like to go to hang out, wind down, or play sports and be active in the community.
We host soccer and basketball tournaments & leagues, put on battle of the bands competitions, take field trips to the city, ski trips to the mountains, and a whole assortment of physical and recreational activities that entices our young people to join our organization.
Best Practice 3: Staff Supports
Every non-for-profit organization understands the struggles of being short staffed, but here we utilize our volunteers and work study students to their fullest potential. We recruit from the local universities by going directly to the departments within the school we need support in. Many of our tutors are 21-22 year old who are undergraduate or Graduate, Math, English, and Education majors.
We recruit volunteers and other part time employees at career and internship fairs and offer a competitive salary for part timers, which will draw the most qualified candidate, candidates such as teachers or guidance counselors looking for a second job or a recent graduate looking to gain experience. Offering a competitive salary enables them to devote quality time and energy to our kids. Our administration understands that need and does its best to make those funds available for an outstanding staff.
College Prep and Academic Support:
Like I mentioned above, our high quality staff, work study students, and volunteers offer the quality academic support services with an individualized approach that our kids need to gain an outstanding education.
Many of our programs are structured as classroom experiences and the kids are taught new skills and learning methods. Our tutors and program teachers write their own curriculum and pre-test and post-test students for data on their own best practices.
We offer classroom experiences such as reading support for our elementary members, creative writing, math tutoring, and S.A.T & college essay writing classes for our Teens.
College prep involves monthly college tours where we will visit two new schools a month around the northeast on a day trip during the weekend. There we make sure the kids get a tour with an information session and hear from other administrators, such as those in charge of access programs. We also plan two week long college tours a year where we get an opportunity to break away from the northeast and visit areas such as the mid-west, California, or Florida. Those experiences are funded through local foundations such as Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs or State and National efforts such as HESC or Taco Bells Graduate for Mas grants.
We supplement those experiences by bring them to fall and spring national college fairs and regional college fairs held all throughout the year. We also invite recruiters in, from schools the kids have seen and enjoyed, to talk to them more personally. One of our favorite and most effective practices is to reach out to the universities' young alumni who can relate to the kids and speak to their experiences on the Teens' level.